We are in the phase of rapidly fading memories of the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage which was orchestrated and carried out by a group of misguided Sri Lankan Muslims. Their actions which the vast majority (please note word vast majority) condemn in no uncertain terms have resulted in the surfacing of deep mistrust and suspicion of all Sri Lankan Muslims. We as a community are being collectively punished for the actions of a few extremist terrorists who were either guided or misguided by a still existing group of fundamentalist Sri Lankan
Very simply, what we are trying to say is, the status quo which prevailed before the dastardly Easter attacks, is still prevalent. The difference is that the expression of ideas, concerns and expectations of the majority Sinhalese community with regard to the Sri Lankan Muslim minority is now more open and transparent; this is an opportunity to address the issue of suspicion and anger towards minorities in general and the Muslim community in particular. Once again, it boils down to a question of TOLERANCE among one another at individual level.
The concept of TOLERANCE, one must understand, is NOT A NATURALSTATE FOR HUMANS. It is an attitude and virtue which need to be cultivated. Research shows tolerance helps governments maintain law and order and exercise power effectively. Basic tolerance fails to satisfy the moral person; it fails to animate a lively society and ignores the potential power of the virtue of tolerance.
The concept of TOLERANCE, one must understand, is NOT A NATURALSTATE FOR HUMANS. It is an attitude and virtue which need to be cultivated
Let us summarise, in a few sentences, the questions Sri Lanka will need to address in convincing the majority of the need for tolerance; “Why should we tolerate the Muslims and Tamils in the ‘Year of Tolerance’? We have tolerated them for thousands of years and see what they have done and continue to do to us? The question should be – why can’t the Tamils and Muslims tolerate us the majority Sinhalese of this country? Will Sinhalese Buddhists be tolerated in Saudi Arabia for example? It is precisely this dialogue which we need to have as SRI LANKANS. We may have different ethnic, religious, regional, cultural, social and political views, but what ought to be uniting us is the common denominator all of us share - OUR SRI LANKAN IDENTITY! This may we cite as the first justification for declaring 2020 an year of tolerance.
The details of activities to be carried out can be discussed in the process of considering declaring 2020 an year of tolerance. Of course, there are much more technically-competent experts in the field of tolerance from a sociological perspective, but lets conclude by sharing six practices and attitudes which capture the spirit of tolerance; 1) Empathy; 2) Compassion; 3) Dialogue; 4) Conflict resolution; 5) Resilience; 6) Teamwork. Most of these are already part of our diverse religious teachings and cultural practices as Sri Lankans, but for some reason, our moral compass has been disrupted by religious, political and ethnic extremists from all sides for personal, political and economic advantage.
Like Lord Buddha said, we need to follow the middle path, and we should all believe that is precisely what we should do and the most important justification for calling on the government and Sinhala Buddhist majority to support the call for declaring 2020 an year of tolerance for Sri Lanka.